Jewish Heritage Tour of Spain
Search for something…
why gil travel
Asia / South Pacific
Gil Travel in Collaboration with Jewish Heritage Alliance brings you the ultimate five-star, all-inclusive travel experience to Spain. This specially designed tour of Spain will introduce you to the heartland of the Sefarad (Jews of the Iberian Peninsula). The Academic Tour Leader is Dr. Rabbi Peter Tarlow.
Visit Madrid, Avila, Segovia, Toledo, Cordoba Antequera, Granada, Gibraltar, Jerez, and Seville.
This tour includes:
All ground transportation through Spain and Gibraltar by private bus. In addition to the Academic Leader, we include a National Guide as well as local and on-bus bilingual English-speaking guides. All breakfasts and dinners (vegetarian option always available) Entrance fees and local taxes included throughout. In addition to our national and local guides, lectures on Sephardic and Portuguese Jewish history encounters are provided by Rabbi Tarlow.
Cost for the all-inclusive land package including breakfast and dinner, all hotels, all tours, entrance fees and transfers:
$4,795.00 per person based on double occupancy.
Single occupancy add-on is $1,195.00.
Estimated airfare from Newark: $1400.00
Please contact us for more information
Depart your home city for the overnight flight to Madrid.
Welcome to the spiritual, political, and economic center of Spain. Here, where modern and old Madrid lives side by side, you will revel in Madrileños, celebration of life. Madrid’s culture abounds with world renowned El Prado and Reina Sofia Museums, an ensemble of sidewalk artisans along the Plaza Mayor, a 17th century masterpiece of Renaissance architecture, a popular night-time spot for outdoor cafes and tapas bars. The Jewish community of Madrid is as old as is the city. The first Jews settled in Madrid in the ninth century, but the earliest historical records date back to the mid-eleventh century only, specifically, to the year 1053.
Meeting services at the airport and begin our sightseeing tour of Madrid. We drive along Paseo de la Castellana, a wide, tree-lined avenue leading up to the world-famous Prado Museum. We pass Plaza Colon and continue to Gran Via and Plaza España for a walking tour in the city center with photo stop at Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor, San Miguel Market.
The area between the market, The Royal Palace and Calle Arenal, is where the Old Jewish Quarter of Madrid was settled. Next to the Judería was the cemetery, located in what is now Plaza de Oriente. Three centuries later, bubonic plague forced the Jews to relocate to the “New Jewish Quarter” alongside the Campo del Rey – Plaza de la Armería – where the Almudena Cathedral now stands. The new Jewish quarter comprised some twenty houses and a synagogue and occupied half a dozen blocks. The archaeological excavations carried out next to the Royal Palace and the cathedral confirm the existence of the new quarter on this spot in the 14th century, while other records show that the Jewish quarter and synagogue were located near the Campo del Rey area next to the Almudena Cathedral. Plaza de Ramales, Plaza de Santiago and Calle Bailen were also areas where high-ranking Jewish converts lived. Here we will see the Tribunal of the Inquisition. Make our way to the hotel for dinner and overnight.
Overnight at the Madrid VP Plaza España Design Hotel. (D)
Today we visit the walled city of Ávila. In the Middle Ages it was one of the wealthiest and most flourishing cities of Spain. One of the most important figures of Spanish spirituality is Santa Teresa de Ávila who came from a family of converted Jews. The Hebrew tradition of educating children from an early age was present in his home and this allowed him to develop his personal ideas about spirituality. The first Hebrews arrived in Avila around 1085, after the Muslims took the city, although it is possible that already in Roman times there was a Jewish community. Around 1230 in Avila one of the most important Talmudic academies of the 12th-14th century was established. At this time, the famous cabalist Moshe de Leon settled in Ávila, who wrote the Zohar (book of splendor), one of the most important works of Hebrew mysticism. In 1300 the Jewish community coexists with the Christian one. Initially they settle in Calle Del Lomo to later move to the
Mercado Chico area. In 1480 with a royal decree, they were forced to live apart, so they moved to live in the area bounded by Villaspin street, the church of Santo Domingo and the Polentinos palace. Of significant interest is the Synagogue of Don Manuel (today a private house), the Jewish cemetery, the Garden of Moshe de Leon, the Puerta de Malaventura.
Next we head to Segovia, a World Heritage City, once the most prosperous Jewish communities in Spain for three centuries. The city came to have 5 synagogues, mikveh and slaughterhouse.
Until 1412 they even had legal and administrative independence. The tour of the old Jewish quarter begins in the Plaza Del Corpus Christi where the old Jewish quarter begins. The first Jewish neighborhood is between Calle Almuraza and Puerta de San Andrés. In 1481 Jews are forced to live in a delimited area that extends through the south gate of the wall. The tour includes the Old Synagogue (today the Corpus Christi church), the San Andrés gate, which was the access to the Jewish quarter, the house of Abraham Señor (today the educational center of the Jewish quarter), the house of the sun (where before the slaughterhouse Jewish), the Jewish quarter of the 8 doors, the shutter of the sun and the remains of the Jewish cemetery. We return to the hotel in Madrid for overnight and dinner.
Overnight at the Madrid VP Plaza España Design Hotel. (B,D)
This morning we make our way to picturesque Toledo, a melting pot of five cultures and one of Europe’s oldest and most mystical cities. Here you will view magnificent examples of Roman, Visigothic, Jewish and Arab architecture. Famous for the beauty of its synagogues and its Jewish quarter, Toledo was often dubbed “Sephardic Jerusalem”. During the 12th and 13th centuries the jewish community of Toledo was the most populous and rich of the Kingdom of Castile and by and large coexisted for centuries with Muslims and Christians, in which it would be called city of the three cultures. Toledo Jewish history dates back to the 4th century but it is after 1085 when it became the most important
Jewish community in Castile. During the reign of Alfonso X it was the period of maximum splendor and development. The walking tour includes some of the streets of the 5 Jewish neighborhoods that the city came to have. The most ideal starting point to explore the Jewish quarter is through the San Martin bridge, located where the old Jewish butcher shop was situated. The visit includes the Synagogue of El Transito (considered the most beautiful and best preserved medieval synagogue in the world) with its Sephardic museum and the synagogue of Santa Maria La Blanca. We will be able to see the remains of the sofer synagogue, destroyed at the end of the 14th century. Continuation to Cordoba. En route we stop in Baeza that had a considerable Jewish community during the Moorish rule and suffered greatly during the war between Castile and Mohammed al-Naṣir in 1212. In 1391 there was great slaughter among the Jews of Baeza; the survivors being spared only on condition of submitting to baptism. Five years later, only Maranos were left in the city; and many of these, in 1473, fell victims to the fury of the populace, same as in Cordoba.
Overnight Bodegas Campos Hotel (B,D)
Birthplace of Maimonides, Cordoba was under the Arab Caliphate of Abderahman III the greatest Andalusian Juderia. Under the Muslim rule, the Jewish community lived in harmony with the conquerors who, to save their armies, entrust to the Jews the administration of Seville and Cordoba. The history of the Jewish community of Cordoba follows that of the Arab occupation and Almohad and Almoravid invasions which limited the freedom granted to the Jews when they weren’t massacring them, causing the escape of the community towards Granada. Nevertheless, this period from the 10th to the 12th century is the most splendid golden age of Sephardic culture in Spain. In 1236 Ferdinand III took over the city and granted a number of privileges to the Jews but required a tax of 30 gold coins each year. Under the reign of Ferdinand III, violence began to reach its climax with the sermons of 1391 and the many forced conversions. In 1492, the community complied with the decree of the Catholic Monarchs and emigrated largely to Portugal and North Africa. We visit the Jewish quarter located in the neighborhood of the cathedral. First stage is the medieval synagogue from the beginning of the 14th century; It is one of the three Jewish religious temples from medieval times and the only one in
Andalusia. Next to the synagogue is Casa Sefarad whose objective is to recover the memory of the Jews who lived in Cordoba before the expulsion of 1492. The house preserves part of the original structure of the fourteenth century. In its 5 rooms, aspects of the Sephardic tradition are exhibited. Possibility of attending a Sephardic music workshop. In the Tiberiades square we find the statue of Maimonides, one of the illustrious citizens of Cordoba. The tour of the Jewish quarter takes us to La Mezquita. Visit inside this masterpiece of Hispano-Arabic culture.
After lunch continue to Granada. Stop on route in Antequera a centuries-old Moorish fortress. The vast nature preserve of Torcal de Antequera has dramatic limestone tower rock formations.
Overlooking the town. Continue to Granada to visit the Alhambra Palace and Generalife garden Granada, Check in at the hotel and accommodation.
Overnight at Las Tomasas Hotel Granada. (B,D)
In the morning continue the visit in Granada with the Royal Chapel and the Abayzin. The Jewish quarter of Granada unfolds between the
two rivers of the city -the Darro and the Genil- and is made up of a labyrinth of steep and narrow streets in what is now known as the Realejo. Its Arabic name is Garnata al-Yahud (Grenade of the Jews). With the emergence of the first conflicts with the Muslims, it gradually became a ‘ghetto’ until the conquest of Granada in 1492, when all the Sephardim were expelled by the Catholic Monarchs. After lunch continue to Gibraltar. Upon the arrival check in and accommodation. Dinner and overnight.
Note: For those interested, we will arrange Friday night and Shabbat services at a local synagogue.
Overnight at the Elliot Hotel (B,D)
Gibraltar is located just south of Spain’s Costa Del Sol on the Iberian Peninsula close to the southwestern tip of Europe. It is separated from Spain by a small 1-mile-wide strip of land that has been turned into an airport runway. Gibraltar is just north of the Strait of Gibraltar and only 8 miles from Morocco. It is small, but it is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Gibraltar is only 3 miles long and less than a mile wide with a population of 35,000. As a British overseas territory, Gibraltar is technically a part of Britain and certain jurisdictions are under British rule the UN has officially listed Gibraltar as a Non-Self-Governing Territory similar to the Cayman Islands and Bermuda.
The Gibraltar Jewish community originated from Cordoba’s converts who had to leave their city due to persecution. In the second half of the fifteenth century, some 4,000 converts established
their home on the Rock. This lasted for a few years, until 1492 when they had to leave their homes once again. It was many years later, when the English took possession of Gibraltar, that a Jewish community from Tetuan settled on the Rock. It was in 1724 that the first synagogue was built after 250 years of the expulsion. This community grew with many crypto-Jews from different parts of Spain where they lived hiding their origins. Today there are no more than 600 Sephardim in Gibraltar with 4 synagogues, a school, kosher shops and a nursing home are proof
of its importance. The Walking tour Will include Sinagoga Flamenca, The Great Synagogue dates from 1724 y el Cementerios de la Puerta de los Judios; visita de la Upper Rock National Park, Saint Michael Cave.
Overnight at the Elliot Hotel (B,D)
Today we drive to Jerez de la Frontera the birthplace of sherry. En route, stop and enjoy a wine tasting session at one of the local wineries. Jerez is also world renowned for its fine horses and brilliant singers and dancers of flamenco. We continue to Seville, a wonderful city to explore. Seville is the setting for Bizet’s Carmen as well as Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. It is a seductive, sun-drenched city of orange blossoms, the twirl of the flamenco dancer, the strumming of the solo guitar and the delicious smells of Spanish cooking. It is a city where orange trees adorn every street and square. On every patio and every terrace birds sing and geraniums bloom. This is home to the Alcazar, a Moorish palace, and the magnificent Giralda Tower, originally a minaret of Seville’s great mosque that dominates the city’s skyline. Visit the Plaza España, The Cathedral with Giralda tower and the Alcazar. Continue to the Jewish quarter, the Barrio de Santa Cruz, with its twisting alleyways and whitewashed houses. The Jewish quarter of Seville was the area of the city of Seville in which Jews lived from the conquest of Seville by Fernando III of Castile until their expulsion under the Edict of Granada issued by the Catholic Monarchs. Currently, that area of the city, which includes the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz and San Bartolomé, is still known as the Barrio Judio. The history of the Jewish community in Seville was not easy, as it suffered many attacks and abuses. The most serious was at the end of the 14th century when more than 4,000 Sephardim were killed. The footprint of the Jewish community in Seville can be detected in the bowels of the city as evidenced by the presence of a Hebrew burial located on Cano y Cueto street as a result of the archaeological intervention.
The flamenco dance of Spain embodies a diverse cultural heritage that is alluring, hypnotic, and deeply moving. We’ll share the history of flamenco in Seville through the voices of its artists and aficionados.
Overnight at the Casa Manolo León Hotel (B,D)
Transfer to the airport in Seville for the flight back home.
*Star rating standards vary from country to country.
Start your adventure here
Contact us by sending a message
We always aim to reply within 1 business day.
Get updates on new programs, travel tips, and new inspirations!